From New Orleans to Cedar Rapids to Tuscaloosa to Minot – I have walked the streets and looked in the eyes of families whose lives have come crashing down around them under nature’s wrath.
But nothing prepared me to come back home to New York City last October and look in the eyes of my friend who lost his daughter to Hurricane Sandy. Nothing prepared me to see neighborhoods—many of which had served as the backdrop of my childhood—completely unrecognizable.
This was all due to the devastating storm that hit our shores in the fall with a power and a fury unlike anything most of us had ever seen before. Entire neighborhoods were flooded. Families and small business owners lost everything in a single night. Infrastructure was torn apart. In short, it was one of the most painful chapters in the region’s history and the Obama administration has been committed to helping communities turn the page.
We have worked closely with State and Local governments up and down the East Coast to help prepare for and respond to the storm. Within a week of Sandy making landfall we had 17,000 federal responders on the ground, helping displaced families find shelter and getting communities back on their feet.
In addition, the scope of the damage made clear that more assistance was needed, which is why the President fought for, and Congress ultimately passed, a supplemental funding bill providing tens of billions of dollars to help rebuild impacted communities.
The President also knew that we needed to do two key things: cut red tape to get assistance where it was needed as quickly as possible, and coordinate the efforts of all of the Federal agencies to support local communities as they rebuilt in a way that made them more resilient.
That’s why he created the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, which I have the honor to chair.
For the past six months we have worked closely with our Federal partners to find ways to get funding and other assistance where it’s needed more effectively and efficiently. To date, the Administration has provided assistance to nearly 255,000 people and thousands of businesses. FEMA alone has provided $12 billion in funding to individuals and communities.
Additional funding from the supplemental funding bill continues to flow into the region.
And, today, I’m proud to release the Hurricane Sandy Task Force’s Rebuilding Strategy– which will help guide the investment of these funds and, in the bigger picture, assist communities across the nation in preparing for the increasing risks caused by extreme weather.
The President has been clear – most recently in his Climate Action Plan – that we have an obligation to protect the planet for the next generation, just as our parents and grandparents handed us a better planet. He has outlined a plan to cut carbon pollution that harms our health and our planet – and that is contributing to greater risks of asthma attacks and more severe floods and heat waves that drive up food prices.
He has also been clear that, as we take responsible steps to cut carbon pollution, we must prepare communities across the country for the impacts of climate change, many of which are already being felt.
The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force’s Rebuilding Strategy lays out a series of recommendations that will help the Sandy-impacted region rebuild in a way that will prepare them for these impacts – and that will serve as models for communities across the country.
For highlights from the Rebuilding Strategy, click here.
To read the entire Rebuilding Strategy, click here.